It's no secret that York has no shortage of excellent pubs and bars, many of which I have to visit as part of the team behind York on a Fork. It's hard life, I know.
As someone always on the look out for new places to eat and drink, I came across Mr P's Curious Tavern on twitter, just prior to it launching last month.
Already a fan of the Star Inn the City here in York and the Star at Harome, I was intrigued to see what form this next venture by Chef Andrew Pern would take. Especially as the name suggested something quite quirky was going on...
I must admit, I actually got myself down there for a couple of drinks before this review opportunity was even mentioned!
My first impressions were very good and ensured a couple of repeat visits over the past few weeks. When the opportunity* came through for the York on a Fork team to go and experience the food, I certainly wasn't going to say no!
First impressions from the start of my first visit were extremely positive.
Whilst the interior decor isn't exactly what I would have at home, think lots of dark wood, dark green, leather, golden details, owl statues and books, they have created lovely atmosphere.
In fact, there is the real sense that you have somehow been transported to a hunting tavern in the middle of the countryside, despite the fact you are firmly situated in one of the busiest streets in the city. It's this kind of escapism I think that actually gives Mr P's a real edge over it's generic competitor drinking establishments.
Something which also became very apparent from my first visit was the attentiveness and knowledge of the staff, all of whom are extremely welcoming and have obviously received good training. They also seem really excited about the offering here, something else which adds to the atmosphere of retreat and indulgence.
Gin seems to be the drink of the moment here in York, with many places now sporting large Gin menus, alongside unusual and unique tonic pairings. There are actually rumors of a Gin distillery setting up in the city, something which I have all my fingers crossed for!
Mr P's is no exception to the rule, boasting an impressive Gin menu, alongside a good selection of wines, beers, sherries, fizz and other spirits.
The food offering can only be described as "Yorkshire Tapas" - with a large number of sharing plates on the menu. We were advised to choose three per person, with the option of always adding more as we went.
Each dish was brought out in turn, which actually worked really well, as you weren't left with lots of dishes on the table waiting to go cold. This also signified that we were to eat each dish as a self contained experience, rather than mix and match on our plates with a bit of this and that.
"Sashimi" of Tuna with Scallions, Hot Horseradish, Pink Ginger and Oriental Jam
Croque M'lass - Smoked Salmon and Comte Quail Eggs
Our First choices came along promptly and immediately set high expectations for the rest of the meal.
The Sashimi was tender and well balanced, as neither the horseradish or ginger dominated the dish, but rather worked in harmony.
The Croque M'lass was a perfect mini experiment, crisp with melt in your mouth salmon. The quail eggs also had a unique flavour to them, something which is often not apparent in dishes which use them.
Steak Tartare, Smoked Bacon & HP Ripple Ice Cream, Fried Bread Sprinkles
Lowna Goats Cheese Ice Cream, Waldof Garnsih, Brack
The second set of dishes were by far my favorite. The tartare was absolutely gorgeous, with the HP ice cream adding an interesting texture! In fact, I was quite surprised how well this worked, having written it off as a bit of style over substance.
The goats cheese ice cream was also another combination which initially had turned me into a skeptic, but in fact it worked perfectly. The ice cream was sat a top a disk of goats cheese, which was runny round the edges, yet had frozen in the centre.
Strasbourg “Haute” Dog, Juniper Cabbage Coleslaw, Fried Onions, Brioche
Off the specials menu (which means I can't remember the name!) Ox cheek and Chicken Wing
The last two savory plates were by no means a disappointment, however it must be said that they showed a slightly weaker side to the menu.
The hot dog was certainly better than your usual dog, despite the brioche being slightly dry. In terms of flavour this also wasn't the most exciting experience, though the juniper slaw did add something different.
The ox cheek again was better than normal standards and quite a lovely self contained bite. Both the ox cheek and chicken were perfectly tender, though I have to say that I found the flavours a bit overpowering in this dish, but that could be down to personal taste.
Egg n' Toast, with a Totally Tropical Taste
As soon as I saw this on the menu, I knew I had to try it! I was also reassured when upon placing my order, the waiter said "I was hoping you would order that!"
This certainly gets full marks for presentation, with a delicate ceramic egg, filled with panna cotta and topped with the totally tropical coulis. The biscotti also provided the perfect opportunity to do a bit of soldier dunking! A lovely light dessert to a rather meat heavy round of dishes.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by our evening at Mr P's.
My top points of praise have to go to the menu, which is well thought out and full of surprises, and the excellent level of service and knowledge from the staff.
In terms of price point, this isn't going to be somewhere I can afford every evening, however I do think it will be my go to place for small celebrations and date nights.
Now that I have said that, I do think the wine menu is well priced, so I do recommend thinking of stopping in if you are drinking in the city centre. Especially if you want to escape the crowds for a while.
My only critique would be that some of the dishes are slightly underwhelming, however I think this probably will be improved over time as they play with their menu and get further customer feedback.
Mr P's Curious Tavern
71 Low Petergate, York, YO1 7HY
*Our meal and drinks were complimentary, however my opinion is my own, as always.